Model suggests potential for Porites coral population recovery after removal of anthropogenic disturbance (Luhuitou, Hainan, South China Sea)
Population models are important for resource management and can inform about potential trajectories useful for planning purposes, even with incomplete monitoring data. From size frequency data on Luhuitou fringing reef, Hainan, South China Sea, a matrix population model of massive corals (Porites lutea) was developed and trajectories over 100 years under no disturbance and random disturbances were projected. The model reflects a largely open population of Porites lutea, with low local recruitment and preponderance of imported recruitment. Under no further disturbance, the population of Porites lutea will grow and its size structure will change from predominance of small size classes to large size classes. Therewith, total Porites cover will increase. Even under random disturbances every 10 to 20 years, the Porites population could remain viable, albeit at lower space cover. The models suggest recovery at Luhuitou following the removal of chronic anthropogenic disturbance. Extending the area of coral reef reserves to protect the open coral community and the path of connectivity is advisable and imperative for the conservation of Hainan's coral reefs.